The second session that I attended yesterday at the 2011 SharePoint conference was about managing the lifecycle of your website design (#SPC258). This session focused mostly on public-facing websites but had a lot of great content that was also applicable to Intranet site designs. The session was delivered by PJ Zargarzadeh, who is a TSP for Microsoft in Canada. PJ had a great presentation style that really lent itself well to this type of delivery.

Key Process Points

He focused on the key process points that are required for a good development, which I have outlined below:

  1. Planning
  2. Design Roadmap
  3. Build Roadmap

The thing  I liked the most about the session was the flow of the content that he presented. His first point was that you need to have a plan to implement anything. If you have no plan, then you have no idea how to measure your success. Your plan needs to be specific and include goals that can be measured. You need to start with this before you really move forward with any other steps.

Once the plan is in place, your focus will move to the design of the site. This will include items such as the information architecture, wireframes, design comps and functional prototypes. From here, the final part of the process is building the site. This is where you work with the team to build the actual product on the staging and production environments.

Social Design

In addition to the steps discussed above, PJ spent a good deal of time talking through the importance of the social design of the site. He made a clear distinction between using social integration features vs. having a social site. When discussing the integration features, he used the Facebook Developer tools as an example of how you could integrate specific items into your website.

For a social site, he used the example of Trip Advisor. With the Trip Advisor site, you can login with your credentials and then see information from your friends, which will create a customized travel site experience. While this site isn’t created in SharePoint, it is a great example of the concept PJ was presenting.

His point in showing these sites was to promote the idea that a social site needs to be designed from the beginning. Much work will likely be required, and it is not something that you can just add later if the site was designed with that in mind.

Importance of Search

Finally, one of the last items PJ discussed was the importance of search. He discussed a statistic that claimed that 80% of people who access websites start with the search components and ignore the navigation elements. Because of this, search should be one of the primary items you design for. This will start by making sure you have meaningful relevant content on the site. Once the content is on the site, you can use things such as relevant title names and information architecture to help ensure site findability.

One thing that I appreciated about PJ’s session was that he shared quite a few sites as examples of sites that had been developed using the principles he discussed. Here are links to some of those sites:

Final Thought on #SPC258

Overall, I think that PJ’s session was informative. It focused on the basics of site design and tried to apply the simple concepts to many different site designs. In his session PJ made a point to emphasize that, while there are many examples out there, it is important that you soak up all you can and then apply it to your specific scenario. Learn from what others have done, but apply it to your specific needs and your organization. If you want to learn more about PJ, you can find him on Twitter @PJZargar.

Networking Updates

In my daily updates, I wanted to be sure to share with you some of the connections I have been making. Below are two of the connections that I have made this week. I hope that you will take a few minutes to find these guys on Twitter and start interacting with them because they have some great things to share with this community!


Per is from Denmark and spends most of his time working on the out-of-the-box solutions that can be built in SharePoint. He is using both InfoPath forms services and SharePoint Designer to build several solutions that help deal with the organization of different people during disaster scenarios. It was great to chat with him, and I am hoping to see some of his Office 365 solutions later this week. You can follow Per on Twitter @PerBirk if you want to keep up with some of the things he is working on.


Phil has recently started with SharePoint and has created a blog that he is using to document his process of learning SharePoint. I recently connected with him on Twitter (@ttgpt), but this was the first time I have met him in person. He is currently running a blog that I think is good for others who are just getting started with SharePoint to check out. After all, why re-invent the wheel when you can just learn from others who are doing the same! His blog Trying to get the Point is meant to highlight his journey learning SharePoint.

For Next Time

Today I will be attending a session on Visio Services, which I think it is one of the most unknown killer features of SharePoint 2010. I hope to help bring some more information to you on what you can do with it out of the box.

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